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  • Writer's pictureMatthieu Gagnon

Active Transportation in Orléans North: Access to services and businesses

Updated: May 5

I want to have a look at how to get people from where they live to the businesses and services they need in Orléans North (St-Joseph to the River, Greenbelt to Trim). As highlighted in a recent Business Insider article, study after study show that businesses with good access by active transportation generally do better than businesses in car centric areas with some exceptions like businesses that serve drivers (e.g. gas stations) or sell items difficult to move by active transportation (e.g. mattress). Active transportation also tends to favour small businesses who do not have to pay to build and maintain a large parking lot, an important cost to businesses according to Strong Towns. Since the cost of car ownership according to Ratehub is about $1300 per month per car, it also makes sense that by reducing the need for households in our community to go from one car per driver to one car per household is a good way to increase the money available for local spending.


The following place will be the focus of this post. There are smaller developments such as the strip mall on Jeanne D’Arc near Décarie and the one at Voyageurs and Jeanne D’Arc but these are too small in my opinion to consider when deciding the best active transportation routes at the scale of the community.

  • Convent Glen Mall

  • Place d'Orléans/Centrum Boulevard 

  • St-Joseph 

I decided to omit Youville and Taylor Creek since there are few amenities that are required day to day and very few residents. I hope to one day include those areas but until they get more amenities, I don't think they are worth the investment. I am also excluding Innes because the area would take too much work to make safe. I plan on making an Innes specific post. My only immediate recommendation for Innes is to remove the painted bicycle gutters since they give the illusion of safety without making it safer. Paint is not infrastructure! 


I also split the area where people live. I picked areas that I think would have similar shopping patterns in an environment friendly to people outside of cars. 

  • Convent Glen (Greenbelt to Orléans Boulevard, 174 to the river)

  • Orléans Wood

  • Châtelaine Village 

  • 174/St-Joseph 

For each neighbourhood, I will identify the easiest place that can be used for the amenities listed below. I will identify whether they are the best, good, potential or inaccessible. The best is the best place given the existing infrastructure. “Good” is a place easily accessible with existing infrastructure. “Potential” could be a “good” place if some improvements were made to make it safe and comfortable. “Bad” is too far, unlikely to be made safe and comfortable without completely changing the infrastructure or just much worse than the alternatives. Some services like health care were difficult to evaluate so were omitted.

  • Grocery

  • Pharmacy

  • Hardware

  • Other shopping

  • Alcohol

  • Bars and restaurant

  • Leisure/sports

Convent Glen Mall

Let’s start with Convent Glen Mall because this place is already fairly well connected to existing active transportation infrastructure. It can be accessed from the Ottawa River Pathway even though you need to go through a small desire path by the Cairine Wilson track. It can also be accessed somewhat comfortably through Orléans Boulevard for those who are comfortable on roads with low traffic. The access from Jeanne D’Arc and Orléans Boulevard to the south are not comfortable but could be made comfortable with some adjustments.


Amenities

Convent Glen

Orléans Wood

Châtelaine Village

174/St-Joseph

Grocery

Best

Best

Good

Potential

Pharmacy

Best

Good

Good

Potential

Hardware

Not available




Other shopping

Best

Best

Good

Potential

Alcohol

Best

Best

Best

Best

Bars/restaurants

Good

Good

Good

Good

Leisure/sports

Not available




Convent Glen Mall contains a lot of what people need every day. Given that it is located less than 2 km from the Greenbelt, less than 3 km from Tenth Line, less than 5km from Trim and less than 1.5km from St-Joseph, the location makes it very reasonable for active transportation access for all of Convent Glen, Orléans Wood, and Châtelaine Village. To make it very accessible, it would require active transportation infrastructure along Orléans Boulevard and Jeanne D’Arc and some improvements on the multi-use pathway (MUP) including connectivity and winter maintenance. The very vast parking lot could use some improvements because riding and walking in a parking lot is unpleasant. Improvements to bike parking would also be nice. Convent Glen Mall already makes the area easy to access within 15 minutes by bike.

Aerial image of Convent Glen Mall with the easier active transportation accesses in red.
Aerial image of Convent Glen Mall with the easier active transportation accesses in red.

Place D’Orléans and Centrum Boulevard

Place D’Orléans is designed to be accessed by active transportation only through the pedestrian tunnel in the Orléans Park & Ride. The bike racks there are not up to the city’s own standard and would not be able to accommodate a bike with a basket or a cargo bike but there is a repair station. For those who are not keen on walking over 200m at the end of a bike trip, the mall can be accessed from Champlain but involves fairly difficult and unsafe vehicular cycling between Jeanne D’Arc and the mall parking lot. If you are approaching from the south, you can avoid riding in traffic part of the way by cutting on the sidewalk near the Urgent Care Clinic near Rocque St but Place D’Orléans Drive itself is a horrible stroad (A "stroad" is a hybrid street-road design that combines elements of both, often resulting in inefficient and unsafe conditions for both pedestrians and vehicles.). Another option is St-Joseph, also a dangerous stroad that should be avoided by people walking, riding or let’s be honest, driving. 


Centrum Boulevard cannot be accessed without walking or biking in a stroad environment. 


Amenities

Convent Glen

Orléans Wood

Châtelaine Village

174/St-Joseph

Grocery

Bad (Farm Boy)

Potential

Potential

Best (No Frills)

Pharmacy

Bad

Bad

Bad

Best (Beauséjour Pharmacy)

Hardware

Not available




Other shopping

Potential

Potential

Potential

Bad

Alcohol (Wine Rack)

Bad

Bad

Bad

Bad

Bars/restaurants

Potential

Potential

Potential

Potential

Leisure/sports

Potential

Potential

Potential

Potential

The current access really lowers the potential of the area which screams “only cars allowed!”. Everything is made to make it as comfortable as possible for cars to access the area and the 174 with no consideration for any other mode except for the token pedestrian bridge. However, there is a lot of room with which to maneuver given the size of the parking lot which could include infrastructure for people outside of cars. Moving car traffic away from the mall would make life easier for people walking or riding while making it easier for people to get to and from their cars.

Aerial image of the area surrounding Place D'Orléans and Centrum.
Aerial image of the area surrounding Place D'Orléans and Centrum.

Champlain would need some active transportation infrastructure at least from Jeanne D’Arc to the mall entrance. St-Joseph would also need a significant revamp to make it accessible to active transportation users but this is in the Orléans Corridor Secondary Plan and would just need political will and funding to implement but it would be transformational for Orléans. Place D’Orléans Drive between the mall and Centrum Boulevard could use some active transportation infrastructure to make it accessible. This should be a priority for the city given the high density east of Centrum along with even more density being proposed. If all the density proposed near Centrum materializes, it will be a car centric mess of parking and congestion without active transportation considerations especially for those going to the LRT.

St-Joseph

St-Joseph, as described earlier, is a horrible stroad that is unsafe and unpleasant for anyone inside or outside of a car. Even in a car, it is a congested mess that is dangerous because of the combination of high speeds and vehicles frequently turning into and out of parking lots. Most commerce can be accessed somewhat safely for those of us with encyclopedic knowledge of where the destination is located and the sidestreets that can be used to avoid being on St-Joseph itself. While on St-Joseph, I encourage cyclists to ride on the sidewalk if they value intact bones and breathing. Frankly, my recommendation would be to shop elsewhere or home delivery. However, there are a lot of nice small businesses that could thrive in the area if it wasn’t so awful.

Amenities

Convent Glen

Orléans Wood

Châtelaine Village

174/St-Joseph

Grocery

Bad

Bad

Bad

Potential

Pharmacy

Bad

Bad

Bad

Potential

Hardware

Not available




Other shopping

Potential

Potential

Potential

Potential

Alcohol

Not available




Bars/restaurants

Potential

Potential

Potential

Best

Leisure/sports

Potential

Potential

Potential

Best

Getting to St-Joseph is a short walk for anyone in the immediate vicinity but can be challenging coming from anywhere north of the 174. The best access is through Orléans Boulevard with potential accesses through Jeanne D’Arc and Champlain/Place D’Orléans Drive which are corridors already mentioned in this series of posts.


Image of St-Joseph showing 4 lanes of traffic with narrow sidewalks next to high speed traffic and expansive parking lots.
Google Maps image of St-Joseph

To make St-Joseph itself a good place for people outside of cars, it would have to be removed as a thoroughfare. Reducing the number of lanes from four to two would make it less appealing as an alternative to the 174. Since I am an active transportation activist and not running for political office, I would even recommend modal filters to redirect traffic to roads such as Orléans Boulevard and Jeanne D’Arc. This would allow people to enjoy the businesses on St-Joseph without having to deal with excessive traffic which would make patios more appealing. I don’t expect the city to take the bold action required to make St-Joseph a viable place for active transportation so I tend to keep it low in my list of priorities since cheaper, easier wins with better returns do exist.


Updated Priority List

As a quick recap, here are my objectives, in order of priority, for active transportation infrastructure in Convent Glen Orléans Wood and by extension, a good portion of Orléans:

  1. Create routes for children and teenagers to get to school and other amenities

  2. Enable year-round multi-modal commutes downtown

  3. Make local amenities accessible to people on bike or on foot

  4. Enable year-round bike commutes downtown





Priority



Rank

Route

Kids

Access to transit

Access to amenities

Status

Comment

1

Orléans Boulevard active transportation corridor

X

X

X

Planning


2

Park MUP network improvements including better connectivity and winter maintenance

X

X

X

Ongoing


3

Safe crossing of Jeanne D’Arc between Vineyard and Voyageurs

X



Planning


4

Champlain Active Infrastructure


X

X

Unknown


5

Place D'Orléans Park and Ride active transportation improvements


X

X

Unknown


6

Jeanne D'Arc northwest active transportation corridor


X


Unknown


7

Jeanne D’Arc Overpass safe crossing

X



Under construction

Design not suitable for kids

8

Place D'Orléans Drive and Centrum Boulevard


X

X

Unknown


9

St-Joseph active transportation infrastructure

X


X

High level plan

Too politically and financially hard

10

Youville active transportation corridor




Unknown

Not useful in the short term


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